Successful author Veronica Henley (Janelle Monáe) finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality that forces her to confront the past, present and future – before it’s too late.
What We Thought:
The pitch for Antebellum clearly went something like this, 12 Years a Slave won awards and people seemed to love Get Out, what if we took those two films, mixed them together and added in a M. Night Shyamalan ending? That’s brilliant right?
In theory it sounds like it should work, minus the M. Night ending because I’m not a fan of his films. The problem with this film is, it wants to have a message like 12 Years a Slave and Get Out, but it forgets to do what those two films did first, entertain. I have no issue with movies having a message, but movies also need to be entertaining. This isn’t. At all. I had to pause it three times and convince myself to finish it. I did. I wish I hadn’t.
Its biggest issue is that it’s as subtle as a brick to the face. Every white person in the film (besides the lead’s one white friend) is racist. There’s the “angry old white TV host” who is such a stereotype the young daughter asks her mother why he’s so angry. There’s Jena Malone’s character that in a Zoom/Skype type video call tells Janelle Monáe that the color of her dress looks good on her skin color. The desk clerk who’s a white woman answers a call instead of handling Monáe’s reservation request immediately because that’s clearly racist and not someone doing their job. Then there’s the restaurant host who goes to put Monáe, Gabourey Sidibe and their friend, the lone “good” white person at a “bad” table until they make a scene and get a better table. That’s clearly racism and has nothing to do with restaurant seating and that hostess being told where to sit a party of three. Also (a bit of a spoiler so skip to the next paragraph if you want), a bad white person is dragged and is killed when their body is slammed into a statue of Robert E. Lee. On the nose don’t you think?
The worst part is, the movie could have been great. The first 37 minutes or so you believe you’re watching pre-Civil War era life on a plantation. The white owners have their slaves and it’s very much the horror you expect of that time period. Then it time jumps and you learn about Monáe, her family life and who she is as a person in today’s time period. Then there’s the big reveal I won’t spoil, but you should see coming. If it was made better or if they didn’t beat you over the head with their message, it would have been a cool movie with a twist like Get Out.
Antebellum is the type of movie certain people will call “important” or “necessary” or timely” but they won’t actually talk about the movie itself. The message is what they will push and any filmmaking aspect will be ignored. I can’t do that. I watch movies to be entertained first and foremost. I felt pandered to and that’s not not entertaining. It reminded me of The Invisible Man in the same way, the message was the most important part, the quality of the movie beyond that is irrelevant. I struggled to get through it and almost every character was a stereotype of some sort.
4K ULTRA HD / BLU-RAY / DVD / DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES
- The History in Front of Us: Deconstructing Antebellum (2-Part Documentary)
- A Hint of Horror: The Clues of Antebellum
- Opening Antebellum
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailers